Castillo-Corrales: Passion versus Pressure
by Alex Pierpaoli
originally published 5/6/05 on KOFantasyBoxing.com
A dangerous fight is one where both combatants risk more than records, more than their professional futures, but life and limb as well. Such a fight can be envisioned on paper just by pitting the strengths of one, not against the others’ weaknesses but against his strengths. It is then, in the opposition of strength versus strength where real fights are made. On Saturday night Showtime Championship Boxing presents a Main Event that has danger written all over it and that usually translates into thrills for boxing fans.
Lightweight champions Diego Chico Corrales (WBO) and Jose Luis Castillo (WBC) make up the best of the bunch at 135 pounds and the coveted distinction as undisputed champion certainly awaits the victor of this bout. No disrespect is intended for the talented WBA Champion, Juan Diaz, but he is a boy with much to prove compared to these two giant men at 135. Both Castillo and Corrales are cut more like welterweights with Corrales’ nearly six feet of height opposed by Castillo’s bulk; it is often rumored he can weigh as much as 150 pounds by fight time.
These combatants are elemental in their differences. Corrales is the stalking contradiction, a six foot beanpole with lightning-quick thunderbolts in both hands, versus Castillo, the square-shouldered scrapper whose weapon is nose and brow-busting craft, coupled with a sociopathic relentlessness: it’s sure to be a thrilling fight.
Jose Luis Castillo is probably the pound-for-pound best kept secret in boxing and could quite possibly be one or two fights from being considered the all-around best fighter pound-for-pound. Of course to call him a secret is insulting to the thousands of Mexican fans who worship and herald him as the best fighter since the great Julio Cesar Chavez. But today Mexican fans are spoiled in terms of champions and great fighters; in fact even J.C.Chavez himself fights again in another final comeback outing later this month. Besides Castillo there is Morales, Barrera and Marquez’s, both feather and bantam, that also lay claim to the pride of Mexican boxing. Most would agree however that of the four best fighters in boxing, along with Erik Morales, Jose Luis Castillo completes the Mexican half of the pair of twos at the top of the sport; Mayweather and Hopkins being the American half.
Castillo is the only man in the top ten pound-for-pound with two fights against Mayweather, both close decisions, the first of which was controversial; if he was to beat Corrales easily there is no question many would consider him number three in the world. His accomplishments have been building up, seemingly while no one was looking. Most recently Castillo came alive on Casamayor, wearing him down late and turning back a spirited challenge from the Cuban nemesis of his Saturday night opponent. Castillo likes to start the rough stuff early when he fights and what happens in the trenches Saturday night will dictate what type of fight we’ll see. The more elusive and more mobile the guy is the less likely Castillo’s tactics are to remain effective. Corrales will need to move and keep Castillo coming forward timing him with hard punches on his way in similar to the way Chico did in his rematch with Casamayor.
If not for that rematch, and Corrales’ rebirth as a professional prize-fighter, this writer wouldn’t give Chico much chance versus Castillo’s cold calculating consistency. But under the tutelage of trainer Joe Goosen Chico Corrales has found a big brother type of mentor that has focused his fire and added patience to the punchers’ arsenal. He is a better man now; more stable, more balanced. If Corrales can maintain a sense of calm the way he did last summer in the face of Acelino Freitas’ furtive bursts of violence he may be able to catch the hard charging Castillo with a bomb. In terms of power few in the sport can compare to Corrales’ bone-numbing propensity to turn out an opponent’s lights and when a fire-fight breaks out on Saturday night Castillo will have to dig deep and hope his chin can withstand Corrales’ blasts.
It’s easy to envision Castillo’s rough style resulting in Corrales being shoved and pulled off balance. He will need to be mobile to avoid the grappling but rugged enough to withstand Castillo’s strength when the clinches occur. And there will be a lot of inside stuff in this fight where either man can get bloodied. If there’s a cut it’s likely it will be the oft-sliced or skewered Corrales who goes for stitches after the bout. He was cut and battered about the face by Mayweather years ago and Casamayor gave him Carmen Basillio-type injuries in their first fight which prompted Nevada’s Margaret Goodman to save Chico from permanent oral tissue damage and possible drowning on the blood running down his own throat. Through that all however, Chico Corrales only fought harder and became ever more dangerous. Castillo will find out very soon that it will demand all he has to out-gut the ultra-competitive Corrales.
In the end it will be over quickly if Castillo cannot grit his teeth and bolt his knees against Chico’s head-cracks, it’s likely he has never been hit as hard as he will be on Saturday. But Castillo wins this fight not so much because Corrales will be deficient or that he will somehow implode under pressure, that is not him anymore. It is only because Castillo, quite simply, is so indomitable, and so consistent, that Corrales’ passion and aggression in fits and starts cannot prevail.
Down the stretch Corrales just needs to fight too perfect a fight to overcome Castillo’s teardown pressure. Everything must go right for Corrales to win but before the final bell Chico’s flesh, or bone or consciousness will fail on him but his will cannot, nothing will break Corrales’ will. There is no danger of that.
Send comments or questions to Alex Pierpaoli at: KOFantasyBoxing@gmail.com